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Q for exp. travelers w/small children/babies

Q for exp. travelers w/small children/babies

Old Dec 9th, 2000, 08:49 AM
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Feel free to mail me if you would like to have less emotional input on this issue. As is clear, this post has opened a torrent among posters. We have traveles from the US to Italy for 2 wks with a 6 mo old and would do it again without hesitation. Stephen
Old Dec 9th, 2000, 08:50 AM
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Childless childlover, those Chinese grannies have got it exactly backwards (and I suspect their horror at having grandchildren out in public is much more complex than a simple phobia about germs).

When I raised my kids, I did not try to shield them from illnesses one could expect to be rampant in the public, because I had this instinct that their immune systems would benefit from gradual but consistent exposure to new germs. Now I've been vindicated by a couple of studies that show that kids exposed early to the common illnesses (e.g., in nursery schools, etc.) are healthier and have strong immune systems in later life than those who get through their early years protected from every bug.

No, I would not purposely place any child in the company of someone with an serious contagious disease -- any more than I would place myself there. But your suggestion that parents keep children from traveling for fear of catching something is misguided and -- to me -- a weird reason to begin with.
You could also argue that one shouldn't expose children to the possibility of kidnapping, mugging, aircrashes, train crashes, etc. -- and eventually you're arguing that no one should go anywhere because the risks are just too great.
Old Dec 9th, 2000, 01:54 PM
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I maybe totally ignorant on this subject.
But my simple understanding of Social Security system, was that what is being paid in now, is not being saved for us, but being used for those who have retired already, or will be retiring soon.
And some of the concerns about the way the system runs now, is that when we/I,(born in the late 40's & early 50's),and those who are younger, reach retirement age, there will be a much smaller base of workers contributing into the fund to pay out to all the retirees.
So, we are truly dependent upon our children and their children to pay into the SS system.
As I said before, our society is truly becoming more selfish and more directed to the attitude "what is in it for me", and " don't anyone interfer with my pleasures"
Some who are childless (not all) even complain about paying taxes for educating these same children who will on day grow-up and be working to support you and me!
Old Dec 9th, 2000, 03:13 PM
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We just finished our travel to Spain and Portugal with our 10-month old TWINS. When I had asked suggestions similar to Jeff's on this forum, I was met with a host of anti-child-travel sentiment also, but apparently all children are different.
Stupid as it may sound, we did have a tight schedule and were more-or-less able to stick to it. Best of all, everywhere we went we met so many strangers via our children. There were entire travel groups who would surround the twin stroller and lovingly adore the kids/ take pictures. I think most people in Europe/ Asia actually love to see kids amongst a traveller population mostly comprising of retiring adults or middle-aged couples.
My 2 cents...
Old Dec 9th, 2000, 03:16 PM
Think again
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Some of you are missing the point. Agreed that gradual exposure to "home" germs is the way to go. (Too much cleanliness may actually be bad, in that it doesn't give the child an opportunity to become robust and develop immunities.) Babies are born with some natural immunities acquired through their mothers. But that immunity would be to the diseases mother was exposed to, not to strains nonexistent in mother's environment. A friend learned that the hard way when her American toddler got TB on a European trip. Mother grew up in the USA when TB was rare. A young woman I know suffers from a leg and ankle bone weakness that will eventually leave here unable to walk. This was an effect of a potent drug used to treat her for a disease she caught in early infancy in Italy during a vacation that her parents had planned before they were aware that she'd been conceived. Routine diseases that are oinly a nuisance to people who have grown up with them can kill people who have never encountered them (either through their own experiences or via their mother's antibodies)..Remember the Incas?
Old Dec 9th, 2000, 06:11 PM
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I think I'm missing something here. I don't remember EVER being seriously inconvenienced or disturbed by someone else's child on a vacation. (I don't have any.)
But I do usually wonder WHY people take infants on foreign vacations. There seem to be a few good reasons, visiting grandparents etc is one of the best, I also knew a travel writer who took her infant everywhere, getting her ready for what her life would be like for the next 5 yrs until starting school. The parents intelligently planned around the child and did not do all the things they used to do before she was born, they just had a different travel experience. child came first as she should but they never expected other people to cater to their needs.
I too have heard some sad stories of babies becoming sick and in one case dying from diseases picked up abroad, and if it were my infant I wouldn't take a chance unless I had traveled extensively in the area and had probably built up immunities which were passed on to the child when carrying.
Old Dec 9th, 2000, 07:15 PM
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Forgot to mention that usually I've found that parents traveling with a baby are LESS loud than other tourists.
Old Dec 10th, 2000, 02:36 AM
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This is just too silly. Of course you can drag the baby anywhere if you like. You can attempt to shush (to the huge annoyance of everyone around) your child anywhere you happen to be (plane, museum, hotel, restaurant) with no apparent concern for the emotional well-being of your child. Obviously, your concern is for yourself and not for the child or others. Hopefully, but doubtfully, you'll come to realize that you're a parent for now and not a world traveler. You should have considered a poodle or a bird. I'm with whoever mentioned that the contributors here are not anti-child but pro-responsible-parenting. Pity the poor child.
Old Dec 10th, 2000, 05:21 AM
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1. TB is not rare in the US anymore, particularly compared to Western European countries. Ask the American Lung Association.

2. The Incas, if it was disease that finished them, suffered that fate because they'd been isolated.

3. Anecdotes are never compelling refutation of anything. The incidents you recount, while regretable, could have happened here as well as in Italy. For that matter, there are some diseases that are treated more competently in places like Switzerland and France than they are here.

Your point -- which I don't miss at all -- remains that one should keep children at home until they are at some magical age when they can handle "foreign" diseases. And my point remains that that concept of protection is illusory and, finally, not necessarily beneficial.

I'm not advocating taken a 4-week old into Penn Station. I'm saying that keeping home an 18-month-old merely out of fear of disease -- especially where developed countries are involved -- is unreasonable.
Old Dec 11th, 2000, 08:44 AM
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Perhaps all of the people who can't deal with children on airplanes and at their destinations should only fly on charter planes to adults-only resorts! Even if no American child was ever taken to Europe again, I am sorry to tell you that Europeans have babies too! Experiencing life together is part of being a family. I plan very carefully when I am traveling with my children. There have been times when 3 hrs wasn't enough for my then five year old at a museum and there have been times when 20 minutes was more than he could take. On those occasions we left. Perhaps the point is that parents can't always "do something" about their children's behavior ( such as a crying child on an airplane) but when they can ( a crying child in a restaurant or museum) they should be considerate of others. I believe travel teaches flexibility and understanding of differences (be they cultural or behavioral). Maybe if more people were able to learn these lessons as children, we would have less grouchy, inflexible adults.

Jeff: Where ever you choose to travel there will be things to do with your child because the people who live there have children too. It takes a little (ok, sometimes a lot) of digging ,but you can find fun mult-cultural, child-friendly things to do all over the world. Without our children we never would have seen the penguin parade at the Edinburgh zoo nor would we have eaten at the KinderKookKafe in Amsterdam. Both are favorite memories from those trips. I am sure you already know that traveling with children means flexibility and playgrounds, snacks between meals (what a great excuse for another stop at a bakery or icecream stand), cutting back on plans on bad days, and storing up the smiles and memories on good days. Your son is very lucky to grow up traveling. It will always be second nature to him and will make a big difference in his understanding of world geography and cultures. How about someplace along the coast for your next trip. Beaches are fun for all ages. Spain? Portugal? Have a great trip and take lots of pictures. Your son may not remember all of his travels but you will.
Old Dec 11th, 2000, 10:32 AM
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Where did he go???
Hooray for Maggie! Well said
I hope your child is as wonderful an adult, she's off to a good start!
Old Dec 11th, 2000, 10:58 AM
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Where does this idea that one of the purposes to having children is so as to have someone to take care of you when you're old. Has anyone every heard of financial planning? My parents would never expect me to take care of them. Will I honor them and be there in their senior years - of course. But they also know I have my own life and the point to giving me life was to give me life, not to take care them. They didn't have children so as to have a future meal ticket . The elderly are the richest group in America - next to the NRA, the AARP is one of the strongest lobbying groups in America. I get so tired of seeing parents live their frustrated lives through their children. Wendy said: "...your son may not remember all of his travels but you will..." Once again, the child is placed second after the parent's needs and wants. Freud was right - children inherit their parents neurosis.
Old Dec 11th, 2000, 02:27 PM
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I have no problem with people traveling with small children or babies even though I think they are being totally selfish. For the most part they don't impact me much. All I ask is keep out of the nice restaurants - this goes for at home too. When did it become acceptable for people to drag small children and babies into nice restaurants that are meant for adults? When I was a kid there was something called a babysitter. I am willing to give up all fast food restaurants and franchise type places (Chili's, Applebee, etc) to the families but please leave a few nice places we can go without listening to whiny kids and crying babies. Are people just too cheap to hire babysitters or do they just not give a damn about anyone else?
Old Dec 11th, 2000, 02:35 PM
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Scrooge: You misunderstood my statement. My children will probably not remember much about their many "firsts" that occurred in their early years, but as their parent I remember those times for the time we shared and the interactions we experienced together and with the world around us. When I wrote to Jeff that his son might not remember the trips but Jeff would, I was referring to memories of shared adventures.
Old Dec 11th, 2000, 02:52 PM
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Mmmmm.. I'm still here, copying all the responsive posts to my travel file and trying not to let the others goad me into further replies. Thank you, thank you, thank you for those who have filed responsive and educational replies. I didn't mean to start a debate, but found myself in one. I have learned quite a bit, though. I hope the non-responsive posters would take their positions to Zeus' "get it off your chest" thread, instead of diluting the responsive posts here. Thanks again to those of you that have shared your experiences.
Old Dec 18th, 2000, 03:53 PM
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I'm taking my 15 month old to Europe next month and can't wait! Sure, I'm a bit concerned about the jet lag, but we're prepared for it. I have a problem with those who say, "they won't remember it." Babies, and most young children, barely remember what they did yesterday - they live for the moment. Do you remember every vacation you took between 8-15 years old? Besides, a family vacation doesn't mean you only have to go to DisneyWorld. As for those who feel their "rights are violated", how about the drunk "single guy" sitting next to you for 8 hours over to Europe? Or the fat person? How about the one with Tourette's? Should they be banned too from travelling? Yes, it is the parent's responsibility, but lighten up and have some understanding.
Old Dec 19th, 2000, 09:26 AM
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I am a mother who, for years, has been traveling with my children, as well as alone and with my husband. I have defended the value of traveling with kids on this and other forums, sometimes stridently. Here is the reason to travel with your children, everywhere you can, as much as you can: IT MAKES THEM BETTER PEOPLE. They learn more, they become more curious, they are more tolerant, they have more experience, they are more gracious to others. In the world, we can all use more BETTER PEOPLE.

We will leave with the boys, now 17, 12 and 9, for London for the holidays. I would take my kids absolutely anywhere and know that they will act well, because they were expected to act well at a very early age. And yes, we traveled with them while they were babies, and had some of those crying moments that many of you complain about - guess what? Those moments are actually times when parents are trained in how to minimize their children's irritation on others.

I'll tell the story again, of when we were having dinner in Paris. There was an older woman dining with her companions at the next table. She had a little dog in her lap. The dog would periodically jump off her lap and nip at the legs of the waiters. Then he would jump up on her lap, plant his front paws on the table and eat from her plate. My youngest, who was 6 years old at the time, rolled his eyes at me and said, "Mommy, and you were worried that WE wouldn't behave?!"
Old Dec 19th, 2000, 12:34 PM
Ben Haines
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Here in London I see many small children being taken around the city, and in museums and galleries. Some are unhappy and noisy, but far the most are having a good time. I think that the root of their enjoyment is not the beautiful city of London, alas, but is the close attention and company of their parents. I suspect they don't get looked after anything like as much back home. Children love their parents (it's something in the genes), and so relish their parents' company. As a bachelor and a serial uncle I probably have a sentimental bias for young children. But really, they are usually a joy, eyes wide, chatting away, asking unanswerable questions, laughing.

The only practical hint I can offer is that those pubs that have restaurants upstairs offer cheap and good food at lunch, and will always serve one meal and two plates, to allow allocation of a small portion to a small person.

I go to church weekly (a bit more at Christmas and Easter), and am not clear what is good behaviour for infants. I suppose they oughtn't yell (and indeed we keep a playroom and an entry hall for taking them off to calm them). But what else are they not to do ? We are praising God, and during the Bible readings and sermon we hear a good deal about love. So what's going on when parents in the pews hug infants, or when a small child turns to smile at me for singing loud ? Love, surely. Church is not a concert in pin-drop silence: it's a community in front of God. I'm not in favour of riot, and I ask our children not to run as they come in to church from their lessons to be blessed. So they grin at me, and usually they don't. But when they do run I think I am more annoyed than God is -- and even I am hardly annoyed at all.

I can summarise: for us old bachelors having children around is a pleasure.

Ben Haines, London

Old Dec 19th, 2000, 01:38 PM
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Ben, that was one of the nicest things I have read here in a long time.

The next time I am in church and about to clamp a headlock on my son, I'll think about what you said. Maybe his behavior isn't quite as bad as it seems at the time.

Old Dec 19th, 2000, 01:45 PM
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First I would like to thank Ben for such wonderful sentiments! Well said and I bet you are a great uncle!

On to my questions. I have a six month old son and am also trying to figure out how to balance my love of travel with his needs. To the parents who have travelled with their children as INFANTS (many have gotten off track here), I ask was it worth it for you? Now I am asking specifically about leisure vacations. Not travelling to see family or friends or taking the family on a business trip. A family trip to Europe will cost me a lot of money and I wonder if it will be worth it. All of the wonderful advice revolves around being responsive to an infants needs (rightly so, obviously), but by the time we go back to the room/apt for nap times, play in lots of parks, eat at lots of child-friendly restaraunts, limit museum visits, etc. do you feel like you got much bang for your buck? I suppose if you have been to Europe frequently and are looking for a "living like a European" experience it would be perfect. But say I have never been to Rome, won't I miss out on a lot if I bring my infant or small toddler or do you still feel like you get to do a lot of stuff?

Just trying to weigh my options of either staying stateside (there is lots I haven't seen here as well) for 4-5 years, or letting the little man stay with granny while hubby and I jet off. I really welcome any resposnes about your personal experience with this!



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